Michael Morgan has outlined his personal goal to play in the halves for Queensland this year as the new Cowboys captain targets leading his club side back into finals contention as the chief playmaker.
The 27-year-old, who scored a try and set up another in Saturday's 24-12 win over the Dragons, has played fullback, centre or come off the bench for the Maroons in nine Origin games. Morgan has played six of his 12 Tests for Australia at five-eighth and finished the 2017 season as the World Cup-winning number six.
A biceps injury cut short Morgan's 2018 season after he played game one of the Origin series at fullback, but his goal this season is to win a halves berth with the Maroons for the first time.
"I want to get back to playing Origin. I missed the last two games last year because of injury and I played the first game at fullback which is not really my preferred position," Morgan said.
"I think I played two club games at fullback before Origin One last year so I probably wasn't overly ready for it. I loved the opportunity. I enjoyed the game and I thought I went all right there, but I'd love to play in the halves for Queensland. That's probably my first [goal] - that's individual."
Morgan benefits from Asiata ball play
The Maroons have plenty of options in the halves with Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans the incumbents. Ben Hunt, Kalyn Ponga and Anthony Milford will also press their claims.
Morgan's desire to play in the halves was music to the ears of Maroons chairman of selectors Gene Miles who said Queensland wanted all their playmakers in form in clubland.
"Morgo has been part of our setup for coming up to five years now. He started playing off the bench but he definitely deserves a starting jumper," Miles told NRL.com.
"I've got no doubt if Morgo continues to play the way he does then he will put a lot of pressure on everybody involved to get his starting gig. He's always been highly thought of. He's in the 17 for sure, whether he's number 17, number seven, number four or number one. He will be a 10-year player for us no doubt and has deserved his spot every time."
Miles said he expected the captaincy of the Cowboys would agree with Morgan and bring out the best in him.
"I think he will bring something else to the team with his leadership now that he has the little 'c' beside his name. It is a little added responsibility and he knows he has got to lead the way like his former skipper [Johnathan Thurston] did for the Cowboys for so long," Miles said.
"He was always earmarked to be a leader and a future captain. He will handle it. I am one of his biggest supporters. I love the way he plays."
Morgan puts it on a plate for O'Neill
Morgan is determined to lead the Cowboys back to finals football this year but warned they would need to start better against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night to get over their fierce Queensland rival.
"As a team, bare minimum the goal would be to be in the semi-finals, and obviously the ultimate one would be to win a premiership. My goal would be to get back to playing good consistent footy as a team and not have people saying 'we've lost JT so we can't win and we're no good' anymore," he said.
"I personally felt relieved just having the first win and getting it done, so hopefully we can make it two on Friday.
"There's always room for improvement. We did our review and the coaches showed us where there were opportunities we may have missed. We felt it was a little bit clunky early in the game just getting our timing and rhythm again, so if we can start a bit smoother that'll be good."